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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - The Illinois Association of Convenience Stores and several c-store retailers have come out in force to oppose a state proposal that would raise the motor fuels tax by as much as 10 cents per gallon, which would be earmarked to pay for road and bridge construction.
Carl Adams of Illinois' Ayers Oil Co. (Ayerco) told the Quincy Journal that his company faces a difficult future, in part because he is competing against states with lower gas taxes.
"This is how serious the situation is: We are to the point where we will not expand any further in this state because the market conditions are so poor," Adams told the newspaper.
"It's not worth the investment for us. An additional tax on gas is only going to drive us further out of business. We have several gas stations near the border of Illinois and Missouri, and we are already losing customers, and not just on gas purchases," he continued. "When people bypass our station for one across the river, they also often buy add-on items inside the store. Illinois loses all that tax revenue, too."
Amy Christopher Riley, vice president of retail operations at Chronister Oil and Qik n EZ Convenience Stores, added that her customers simply cannot handle a gas tax increase.
"Illinois already has the highest fuel taxes in the Midwest," she told the news outlet. "With our state's current economic status, how can we ask consumers to pay more in taxes? Whether it's a gas tax, soda tax or income tax, I hear my customers struggling to keep any money in their own pockets. With tight profit margins and gas prices rising over $3.50 per gallon, businesses are not able to shoulder this extra burden. We will have to pass the price on to consumers."
According to Bill Fleischli, executive vice president of the Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association and the Illinois Association of Convenience Stores, the Land of Lincoln may not even use the funds raised by the additional fuel taxes in the appropriate manner.
"We need to put the brakes on any plan to raise the gas tax; drivers deserve a break," Fleischli told the Quincy Journal. "Illinois should spend the money designated in the Illinois road fund on actual projects instead of diverting so many of those dollars away from their original purpose."
Fleischli was referring to a 2013 Illinois Auditor General report that stated Illinois spent less than half of its dedicated road fund dollars on road construction in eight of the past 10 years.